Research – Climate change emerges as another culprit in leafy green food poisoning outbreaks

The Counter

The last decade has been particularly rough on the leafy greens industry. If you’ve followed lettuce news, you’re certainly aware of the multiple outbreaks of foodborne pathogens like E. coli, which have killed hundreds and sickened thousands more. Cattle feedlots have emerged as a major source of contamination for leafy green contamination but over at Eater, Jenny Zhang homes in on another culprit: climate change. Though it’s an emergent field of study and many unknowns remain, some early observations include: Rising temperatures can help E. coli and salmonella proliferate; those same hot temps provoke cattle into shedding pathogens more readily; and climate change-related flooding can rapidly spread contamination into water supplies used in irrigation. “Think of climate change as both an amplification of existing hazards, as well as a potential trigger for things we can’t foresee,” writes Zhang.

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